Appeals Court Weighs Texas Moment-of-Silence Law

By Mark Walsh — February 05, 2009 1 min read
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A federal appeals court heard arguments this week over a Texas law requiring a daily moment of silence in schools.

The statute calls for a daily one-minute period in which “each student may, as the student chooses, reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student.”

A federal district judge in Dallas upheld the law, ruling last year that despite the mention of prayer as an option, the statute had the secular purpose of providing “a period of time for the full panoply of thoughtful contemplation.”

A Carrollton, Texas, family that challenged the law as a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishment of religion appealed the district court ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans.

A panel of that court heard arguments on Feb. 3, as the Associated Press reports here.

The Texas attorney general’s office filed this brief in defense of the law. I couldn’t find an online link to the brief for the family challenging the law.

The 5th Circuit provides a link to a recording of the oral arguments in the case, Croft v. Governor of Texas, at this page.

Last month, a federal district judge in Chicago struck down an Illinois law requiring a moment of silence in schools. I blogged about that decision here.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.